I’m a vocal advocate of the benefits of home working, both for the employee and the employer. That’s all very well for jobs like mine, but what about home offices for those who work in different sectors?
There’s a misconception that home offices are only for the lucky few. Actually, there are amazing examples that show that equipping workers with the relevant technology at home will only become more important in the future.
First, look at healthcare. The NHS Cumbria and Lancashire Cardiac and Stroke Network (CSNLC) has been equipping its on-call consultants with Polycom video collaboration technology at home. By using a desktop application, the consultants are able to connect with a Practitioner Cart at the hospital, where they can view and determine treatment for suspected stroke sufferers. This is particularly important in rural areas, where travelling to the patient in the hospital could waste valuable time. Effectively, the consultants’ homes become the Accident & Emergency department, their equivalent of an office. This kind of home office requires an extremely reliable internet connection, but beyond that, it simply needs a computer and webcam. The consultants still travel to the hospital for regular rounds, but they are able to provide much more effective emergency care by eliminating travel and working from home.
It’s not just doctors who could relocate their offices to their homes. Specialist teachers, such as those delivering foreign language or music lessons, can also benefit from a home office.
For instance, Dumfries and Galloway Council in Scotland realised it could provide more specialist education to children living in rural areas if the teachers weren’t required to travel so far. They invested in video endpoints for the teachers and 120 primary schools, spread across 3,000sq kilometres.
Obviously, it’s not practical for all teachers to work from home – someone needs to be in the classroom – but for specialist teachers who regularly travel between schools, it’s a great way of ensuring that more children benefit from their lessons.
The home office of the future is going to be a far more flexible concept. We’re going to become accustomed to a far more diverse set of professions working from home, using technology which keeps them connected.
Video is going to play a huge part in this. I don’t expect us to have less ‘face time’ with our colleagues and customers, or indeed our patients and pupils. Instead, I believe we’ll have more.